The Sneaky Things Grocery Stores Do To Meat To Charge You More

Being an informed consumer isn't just a matter of clipping coupons and sussing out the best value item on the shelf. Nowadays, you have to dig a little deeper in order to be sure you are making your hard-earned money go as far as possible, starting in the meat section. Before you make your final selection on proteins, scan the label for any mention of saline solution. The reason? Stores sometimes sneakily pump their meat up with salt water to increase the weight (via Eat This, Not That!). 

This means you could be paying a premium price for nothing more than water. However, saline solution isn't the only way that stores might be scamming you into paying more for your meat. For instance, some stores outright mislabel their pre-packaged meats, claiming their cuts are heavier than they are (via So Yummy). To ensure you aren't getting scammed, always scan the pre-packaged meat labels for any added ingredients, including salt water and seaweed extract, and be sure to check the expiration date no matter how fresh the meat looks (some stores pump carbon monoxide into meat packaging to keep it from browning).

How to save money at the butcher counter

Even going straight to the in-store butcher isn't a guarantee that you're getting the best-priced meat possible. However, talking to your butcher is a good way to get some insight and possibly save money. By buying a larger cut, or even a whole animal, you'll end up with a much better value per pound. You can either ask the butcher to break it down for you, or do it yourself and freeze whatever you aren't going to use right away (via Taste of Home). 

For instance, instead of splurging on pre-cut pork chops, you could buy a whole pork loin and ask the butcher to slice it for you (via Cheat Sheet). The same goes for pre-ground beef — it's usually cheaper (and better) to buy a chuck roast and either grind it yourself or ask the butcher to grind it for you (via The Spruce Eats). Finally, if you need to stock up the family meat freezer, wait until just after the holidays when everything from turkey to ham is significantly marked down.